Pittsburgh Steelers‘ second-year running back Le’Veon Bell turned out a pretty decent year in 2013 during his rookie season. Coming into last season Bell missed the first three games with a right mid-foot sprain but made his debut in week 4 against Minnesota. He played in 13 games last season and racked up 244 carries for 860 yards, 45 receptions for 399 yards and 8 total TD’s. Bell topped the 100-yard rushing mark only once but was definitely a key element in the Steelers’ offense with a gaudy average of 22 touches per game.
The Steelers will have a mix at RB this season of Bell and the addition of LeGarrette Blount. How much of a mix or timeshare isn’t that apparent but you would have to think that Bell would get the starts as the feature back with the majority of touches. What gives Bell an edge over Blount is his versatility receiving out of the backfield. I think the Steelers and offensive coordinator Todd Haley will most definitely find creative ways to get Bell the ball in the passing game; making him a valuable commodity in PPR leagues.
The only real threat to Bell’s numbers is going to be on the goal-line. I can see Blount, with his powerful running style, vulturing some goal-line TD’s from Bell this season. Now, it’s not that Bell won’t be in on goal-line situations and get opportunities but I would only expect to see him on first and second downs on possessions inside the five yard line. Also, QB Ben Roethlisberger does have scrambling capability which could also snipe a few TD’s away from Bell. Roethlisberger is in no way hesitant to change a play and call his own number for a sneak or QB draw on the goal-line. I don’t see that happening a ton but you have to realize that it is there.
What’s also important to look at is Pittsburgh’s schedule and how tough it will be. Playing in the AFC Central is no picnic so you can already count six games against teams with upper tier defenses. The rest of the schedule doesn’t really let up either. If you look at it you can pretty much consider every game a dog fight. So you have to realize that if you draft Bell his matchups every week are going to be tough.
I’d consider Bell a solid RB2 this season. While his matchups are tough his potential total touches outweigh those concerns. Though he does have an injury history I don’t see those as a major concern since he had no re-aggravation of those injuries last season. I think you can count on Bell to have a season in the neighborhood of 1,100 rushing, 50 receptions for 480 yards and a total of 11 TD’s. Those numbers would make him a pretty solid RB2 as well as an elite Flex option.
*Photo Credit – Gordon Dedman via Flickr.